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ARB hits back at RIBA allegations of 'expansionism'

The ARB has asked the RIBA to explain why it accused the arms length body of calling architects ‘members’

The response comes after the institute criticised an ARB ebulletin, which the RIBA claimed referred to registrants as ‘members’ and referred to ‘flying the flag for architects’.

The institute argued that the ARB had overstepped its remit by engaging in ‘direct competition’ with UK architects’ professional bodies.

ARB chair Beatrice Fraenkel said in a letter to RIBA president Angela Brady: ‘We have been unable to find any reference to members being used in that way.

‘It is certainly not our intention to refer to architects as such, as we are clear as to the difference between the roles of the ARB and the RIBA.

‘Could you please identify where this occurred so that we can look into this and correct any anomaly?’

Brady – in a strongly worded letter sent in December – said the institute was ‘increasingly concerned’ at the extension of ARB activities, which threatened to jeopardise the two bodies’ ‘sensible working relationship’. She added that the RIAS, RSUA and RSAW also shared the concerns.

In her response sent last week, Fraenkel defended ARB’s new online register – a key point of contention raised by the RIBA – which allows architects to include e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and website hyperlinks.

She said: ‘ARB is of the view that its current format serves both the interests of users and potential users of architect services and architects.’ Brady had claimed the new register coupled with ARB presence at trade shows and pressure on architects to place ‘ARB’ after their names undermined the RIBA.

Fraenkel defended ARB attending trade shows and supplying the ARB logo for architects to place on websites. ‘Users and potential users of architects’ services are important stakeholders for ARB and it is therefore essential that we communicate with them, both by providing information and by listening to emerging issues,’ she said.

Fraenkel concluded: ‘It may be that the RIBA’s concerns stem from a misunderstanding as to the aims of the ARB and its work. We would welcome an early exploratory meeting attended me (or someone from our Board) and you (or someone appointed by you from the Trust Board) and our chief executives to consider how our organisations can work better together at all levels.’

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